Dan Thompson is on his way out the door as CEO of fast food giant McDonald’s. This is not terribly surprising, since the Golden Arches have turned in some poor numbers compared to their competitors for a while now. There are a few reasons for this, some of which came as a surprise to me, as outlined by my friend Stephen Green (a.k.a. Vodkapundit). One big factor which doesn’t seem to make a lot of news is that the primary component of burgers is beef, and the cost has been on the rise.
Stephen also makes the point that rising costs not only for beef, but for labor, are driving McDonald’s price point up into the range of places like Five Guys or Steak n’ Shake which offer more of a diner experience with custom cooked food. But McDonald’s has also felt the social pressure to make some changes which have ruined the factors about their original menu which made it so addictive. The biggest example on that front is when they abandoned beef tallow in the fries to satisfy the demands of the vegans. Those fries used to be addictive! It was the highlight of a visit to their establishment. After the change they were just not the same.
But that particular surrender was only one element of a larger war that McDonald’s was losing, as Stephen explains.
The Left has been waging a cultural war against McDonald’s for decades now, and the results are telling. It won its fight against the chain in the early 1990, forcing McD to remove the beef tallow from the french fries, in order to avoid offending the tender sensibilities of vegetarians. The company’s troubles began in earnest with the emasculation of its world-class fries, but the trend has accelerated with the ascension of Michelle Obama to First Lady. She rails tirelessly against affordable and wholesome-but-bland food which parents can actually get their kids to eat, because buttinskies can’t be happy without buttinsking. McDonald’s has tried to comply by offering healthy apple wedges in place of french fries in children’ Happy Meals, but it’s obvious that the Left won’t be happy with anything short of the chain converting to McTofu & Gruel.
McDonald’s is feeling the squeeze on its core customers: undiscriminating children and hurried adults on a budget. Most everyone else abandoned McD for the likes of Five Guys or Panera, and the chain has so far shown no talent for winning them back.
It’s going to take much more than just a new CEO if McDonald’s is going to have a chance of victory on any of these three fronts — it’s going to take a reimagining of the company — or a return to serving its core customers, and serving up a super-size middle finger to the Left.
I’m not on the bandwagon with Vodkapundit’s complaints about the quality of the burgers at McDonald’s. Maybe there is “pink slime” in them, or just the rejected cuts of the cow ground up into a mash. It doesn’t really bother me. It’s still beef. When I buy burgers to grill at home, we get the good stuff. But when I go to a fast food joint, I know what I’m signing up for and I’m okay with that if the fixings are nice, the price is right and I can be in and out of there quickly. That’s McDonald’s hallmark. It’s why we call it fast food.
The best parallel that comes to mind is scrapple. I love scrapple. I also love a good pork chop. But scrapple is a great breakfast treat with some eggs and toast. I’m not a food snob, okay?
The whole point here is that McDonald’s is never going to succeed if they think they need to deliver the same level of food which you get at a high end restaurant and do so at drive through prices, and they certainly are not going to prosper if they feel like they have to tailor their menu to a bunch of vegans in the hopes of shutting up Michelle Obama and the talking heads on MSNBC. Those people aren’t buying their food anyway… they just want to see them go out of business. McDonald’s needs to get back to their roots, put the beef tallow back in the fries and tell the vegans to go eat their celery sticks quietly in the dark.
Post updated: Sorry about the “slowing”